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Katia and Marielle Labèque

For the latest in our Speed Interview series we catch up with Katia Labèque (pictured on the left), who, together with her sister Marielle, is currently performing on tour with us and Sir Simon Rattle.

What/when was your big breakthrough?
I suppose when our first CD of Rhapsodie in Blue went gold in few months. It did focus the attention of the people on us and also on the repertoire we were playing.

What do you fear the most?
Death of the people we love

Which mobile number do you call the most?
I don’t call often because I prefer the computer.

What – or where – is perfection?
Thank God perfection does not exist…that gives each of us the possibility to try to reach it.

Who is your favourite hero from fiction (book/comic/film/opera) – and why?
Bartleby: “I would prefer not to…” If I really have to explain I see him as an artist who refuses to compromise his art, who refuses to conform to the model of the society he lives in… Read the rest of this entry »

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As I write this the OAE is downstairs in Hall 2 of Kings Place where they are in day three of rehearsals with Sir Simon Rattle. Sir Simon is one of the OAE’s closest collaborators and has worked with us almost since the Orchestras inception – his first concert was in 1987, just a year after the Orchestra was founded. Now one of the OAE’s three Principal Artists, (alongside Vladimir Jurowski and Iván Fischer) he works with us on a regular basis, with a tour most seasons. In the rehearsal yesterday we caught up with some OAE players in the break to ask them just what makes him such a special and exciting conductor to work with.

William Norris, Communications Director

Anyone who knows us well will know that we don’t ‘do’ ordinary pianos. We use period pianos, in-keeping with our philosophy of being authentic. Ceri, our Projects Director, has promised to write a little blog about the pianos used on our upcoming tour with the Labeque sisters, so look out for it appearing here soon. In the meantime, today was our first rehearsal with the sisters and the Fortepianos, basically early versions of today’s piano, were looking rather splendid.

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Well we’ve been waiting to post this video for over a year now, since we first came across it. It’s even spawned an office catchphrase (ok, a Communications Department catchphrase) in ‘Where’s my champagne?’.

Anyway in this video, Madonna (the new face of OAE videos), introduces her favourite pianists, the Labèque sisters, to her entourage of dancers and musicians. The Labèques appear with us on tour with Simon Rattle this week and next, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto for two pianos in Luxembourg, Paris, Dublin and London.

Enjoy the vid – we did send Madonna an invite to the London concert, but I guess it must have got lost in the post…

William Norris, Communications Director

P.S. Where’s my champagne?

Kevin Griffiths

The current Melgaard OAE Young Conductor, Kevin Griffiths

There are just a matter of weeks left to apply to our OAE Melgaard Young Conductor Scheme.  The scheme has been running now for 4 years, and gives budding young conductors the opportunity to nestle up close with the OAE, observing rehearsals alongside great OAE conductors, getting to know and share knowledge with players, and also gaining an insight into the behind the scenes operations in the office (the most exciting part in my humble opinion…)  Through an application and audition process one conductor will be chosen at the audition day this October (not quite like X-factor but almost as exciting).  The conductor will work with the OAE from the autumn for a period of 9-12 months.

For me this part of the scheme’s schedule is both the most exciting and the most overwhelming.  Exciting because you never quite know where from and how many applications are going to come flooding in –  will the next young Vladimir Jurowski or Sir Simon Rattle be amongst the pile of applications?  We usually get in the range of 100 applications so you can imagine the admin that goes with that….That’s 100 DVD packages arriving on my desk, 100 application forms, 100 CV’s, and 100 support letters.  Anyway – that’s the fun of the job J and as we sometimes say in the office ‘today I’m putting the admin into arts admin’.

Watch this space for future developments… (and find out more details of how to apply here)

Ceri Jones, Projects Director

Well today is the first day of our latest project with our Principal Artist Sir Simon Rattle (pictured conducting us a few years ago in Budapest). Of course everyone is *quite* excited about it. We’re touring a concert of Mozart and Haydn, which also features pianists Katia & Marielle Labèque playing the Mozart Concerto for two pianos.

This afternoon and evening sees our first rehearsal with Sir Simon (he’s coming to us straight from a project with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra), with further rehearsals Wednesday and Thursday (we have a rehearsal of Rinaldo for Glyndebourne on the Tuesday). That evening we’re off to Brussels – staying the night there and onto Luxembourg on Friday. We give a concert in Luxembourg Friday night before travelling onto Paris for a concert there on Saturday. We’ve also just found out that we’re going head to head with the London Symphony Orchestra that night – we’re at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, while they are at the Salle Pleyel – and we’re even staying at the same hotel!

Sunday morning we travel back to London before flying to Dublin for a concert at the National Concert Hall on Monday night. Then it’s an early flight back Tuesday to London and the final concert of the tour at the Royal Festival Hall.

It’s going to be an exciting week and we’re going to try and bring you as much news as possible along the way. Make sure you also follow us on Twitter and Facebook to hear the latest.

When I go to conferences and seminars and the like one of the recurring themes seems to be that of organisational structure and the need for successful organisations to break down the ‘silos’ that often occur within them – i.e. departments that work in isolation from each other, with little understanding of each other and what they’re up to – sometimes even being hostile to each other.

That such a situation occurs within big organisations is perhaps understandable, but its surprising that even in an office of just 18 people that we do sometimes have some small symptoms of this – not everyone realising that an education event is occurring, that the orchestra is that morning off on tour, being unaware of a Financial deadline looming, or that two people have been emailing the same person at the Southbank Centre the same question…. Little things. Read the rest of this entry »

Mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly who sings with us in London and Paris next week, talks to journalist Andrew Mellor about her work with later romantic repertoire such as Mahler and Wagner:

You seem to be moving in a new direction with all this Wagner and Mahler…
Yes – thank goodness I had a lot of superb training at Glyndebourne, which prepared me very well. I didn’t realise I had that dramatic sound in my voice until Vladimir Jurowski offered me a concert performance of Tristan a while ago. He seemed to think I could do it and I appreciated that leap of faith. I had sung Das Lied von der Erde with the Concertgebouw and many other orchestral lieder by Mahler so despite performing Handel’s Giulio Cesare at the same time, Brangäne’s music felt very natural. I will confess though that her extreme outbursts initially made me want to apologize to the rest of the room! I felt slightly uncomfortable with Wagnerian hysteria.

You seemed very suited to the character at your Prom performance with Simon Rattle and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment this summer…
Actually Simon came to that rehearsal of Tristan with the LPO and Vladimir and that’s how the Prom came about. Simon was offering different ways of doing things, giving me more space than I’d been used to. He’s a wonderful accompanist; he invites the orchestra to accompany and never dominates, but at the same time he is also able to take the lead. Read the rest of this entry »

A re-run of something we did a year or so back that in the end came up trumps.

We give each concert in our Southbank Centre concert season a title – a way of summing up the evening in a few words. They’re (ideally) pithy, witty, perhaps a little irreverant, and should be a good way of grabbing the attention of someone who is skim-reading our brochure or website.

Last year, with your help, we came up with Papa Haydn and Sister Act for our 21 June 2011 concert with Sir Simon Rattle, the Labeque Sisters, Mozart and Haydn. So we’re turning to you again for ideas for this concert which features in our 2011-2012 season – just post your ideas as comments. And if there’s anything super-amazing there may well be a little prize in it…

The concert:

Weber Overture Der Freischutz
Mozart Piano Concerto No.23
Mendelssohn Symphony No.3, Scottish

So put those thinking caps on and get inventive…

In what’s now become an annual feature we asked office staff here at the OAE which concerts in the upcoming season they are particularly looking forward to – and here’s what they said. Oh, and you can hear more of these from the horses mouths (so to speak) in our new Podcast.

“I’m very excited to hear the Mozart programme on 24 Nov. It has an amazing cast of singers and I am interested to see how the new narration that was written especially for this performance works.”

Isabelle Tawil, Development Manager, Individual Giving

“I can’t quite decide between these 2 which will be my top picks of the Season.  I was immediately drawn to the Vladimir Jurowski concert (21 Jan) because OAE in this later repertoire is such an exciting occasion – it only tends to happen once or twice a year so is definitely one to savour.  We already know that the orchestra sound fantastic and different playing Wagner from the Tristan project this Summer, and as I’ve never heard the OAE play Mahler OR Liszt before, that is something new to look forward to.  I had super fun playing Les Preludes about 12 years ago and I can still remember all the tunes!

Mozart’s Die Entfuhrung will be a first for me also and I’ve spent so much time working on the details for it over the last few months I can’t wait to hear it all come together.  The opportunity to hear the newly commission English narration by Simon Butteriss (which is currently sitting on my desk!) will I hope give it an exciting new dimension.”

Ceri Jones, Projects Director

“Think it’s got to be the 21 January 2010 concert with the legendary Vladimir Jurowski- I can’t wait to see what the OAE do with a bit of Mahler and Liszt! I also love Sarah Connolly’s voice after hearing her in our recent prom with Sir Simon Rattle :-)”

Natasha Stehr, Marketing and Press Officer

“I’m really looking forward to the Grand Tour of Italy programme on 20 October. Whilst I love the energy of the OAE on a massive scale, I have a soft spot for these smaller self-direct programmes. Being in the audience for these programmes is like being a member of the ensemble, they have a feeling of such intimacy that it feels like you are on the stage with them. As a cellist myself, I am also biased towards this programme as there is a cello concertos in it!”

Megan Russell, Projects Officer

View and book the whole 2010-2011 Southbank Season here

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